Is now the right time to upskill in Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?

Are you an RPA specialist or looking to become one? The relative newness of this industry, along with the fast evolution of required skillsets and the rise in the adoption of RPA in organisations equates to the perfect storm of demand for RPA talent.

As a tech recruiter, the RPA specialisation is certainly an area of interest as we see demand for RPA specialists soar in all our global locations.

It’s an exciting area and one that is growing rapidly. A quick definition of Robotic Process Automation is the automating of processes with the help of robots/software to reduce the involvement of humans.

As RPA develops, the fear around the impact it will have on humans and their jobs (not surprisingly) seems to be the main point of conversation. I’ve read countless headlines eliciting fear about “the Robots” that are coming to take our jobs, and have spoken to many people confused and fearful about what this means for them. Like anything, once we understand it better we realise that it’s just another evolution of human ingenuity, like the creation of the sewing machine or the car replacing the horse and carriage. But not just this, we are beginning to see that the adoption of RPA is creating new jobs.

Recently, Talent surveyed some of our candidates about this. We asked; “are you worried about the impact of automation on your job?” Of the responders, 1806 out of 2186 said no, which is 82.61%. This indicates that inside the tech community, those who understand this technology are not as concerned with the impact it might have. It’s also becoming apparent that the new jobs created from RPA uptake are more suited to the emotionally intelligent and cognitive skills of the human brain.

The Rise of RPA

Forrester Research predicts that more than 40% of organisations will deploy some form of RPA by 2020. And a 2017 McKinsey Global Institute report estimated that by 2030, automation will drive 75 to 375 million people to reskill and even change occupations.

In its essence, RPA is the evolution of existing automation technologies and it is becoming accessible across various industries. Many companies are adopting RPA into their organisations to automate highly manual business practices.

And to do this they will need humans…

Demand for skills

So, is now the time to invest in developing your RPA skills capability?

A recent Gartner report states that $52.3 million was generated within the Australian RPA market place in 2018. Whilst this is a relatively small percentage of the $1.2 billion invested in RPA on a global basis, it is an increase of 48% in RPA spend, indicating a significant growth market which should present great opportunity for the right people with the right skillset.

As recruiters in the tech space, we have seen a very noticeable rise in demand for RPA specialists. We are seeing RPA and RPA Product Certification listed on more and more resumes. RPA training courses seem to have popped up all over the world to satisfy the demand for these skill sets, and to train those looking to adapt their knowledge to this evolving marketplace.

From my experience as a recruiter, we have seen that some of these training organisations are less credible than others – we look more favourably on candidates who have been trained with hands on experience in well-known RPA platforms like UiPath, Blueprism, Automation Anywhere, Workfusion etc.  

There are a number of roles within RPA; Solutions Architect, Project Manager, Business Analyst, Process SME, RPA Developer, RPA Tester, Bot Orchestrator to name just a few. Your skills and interests should take you to the right one but the basic framework and understanding is required across the board.

Many of our clients are looking for all-rounders who have delivery and hands on experience with one or more of the RPA tools mentioned above and a few years’ experience. When looking for RPA specialists like this we assess if they have the aptitude and are trained to assess, analyse and optimise each business process they are tasked with automating. However, this type of candidate is rare and in high demand all over the world. They are also very expensive.

Candidates like the above are going to increase in number as RPA adoption continues to rise and creates more talent but it is a relatively new field. An RPA ‘expert’ will often have less than five years’ experience, so in this industry, it’s a bit of a chicken before the egg situation. This increases the chances for new entrants with related skillsets to land an RPA job with basic RPA certifications. We are seeing more and more organisations training basic entrants internally due to the undersupply of talent.

For those looking to adapt their skillset it’s best to begin with premium training in the most popular automation tools BluePrism, Automation Anywhere, UiPath etc. Foundational skills for RPA are problem solving and analytical skills, professional experience in programming (including scripting and coding), SQL and relational databases and application development. To date, most automation tools are built on .Net frameworks so an understanding of this is also necessary. Most importantly is the ability to understand and visualise how to apply the concepts of RPA with business processes to streamline the efficiency of the business as a whole.

If you are an RPA specialist or you are looking to transfer your skills into this sector there is huge potential for you to grow and take advantage of the endless opportunities it offers.